The UK has been one of the biggest suppliers of defence equipment to Saudi Arabia for more than 40 years [19], so it’s not surprising that there are several companies involved. Initially we have mainly focused on Raytheon Systems Limited based in Glenrothes. This is not to single the company out as any different from the others involved in sales to Saudi-Arabia. We’ve included some information about other exporters to Saudi Arabia such as Leonardo, BAE, Selex and MBDA, and listed others, and hope to add to this in future. You can also find further information and some in depth reports on arms companies through CAAT


BAE Systems –

One of the biggest profiteers from selling arms to Saudi Arabia is BAE. The UK government has confirmed that UK built and licensed Typhoon and Tornado aircraft from the Royal Saudi Air Force have been deployed on combat missions in the Yemen campaign [18 and 30]. BAE Systems is part of a consortium which designs and manufactures the Typhoon. It has part ownership of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH which coordinates production of the Typhoon.  

BAE is the prime contractor in the controversial Al-Yamamah deals (which translates in Arabic to ‘Dove’) agreed in the 1980’s. In return for arms, the UK Government receives up to 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day, [33]. It has led to the Saudi-British Defence Co-operation Programme which continues to provide “operational capacity” to the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.


The contract is believed to include the supply and maintenance and support of, amongst other arms, a minimum of 96 Tornadoes [36]. The Al Yamamah deal also involved the UK licensing the export of 120 BAE-produced Tornado jets [41].


Another huge contract was brokered by the UK government in 2007 at a cost of £4.5 billion for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon [42], with a predicted value of £20bn over the lifetime of the aircraft. Negotiations for a new pricing deal were finalised in 2014.   

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR54 '312', by Alan Wilson. (Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0)

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR54 ‘312’, by Alan Wilson. Operated by 3sqn, Royal Saudi AF. (CC BY-SA 2.0) Creative Commons via Flickr, [84]

Typhoons are manufactured at BAE’s sites at Warton, near Preston and at it’s Samlesbury site, in Lancashire. The final aircraft is assembled at Warton. More than 68 of the 72 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft have now been delivered.      

Some of the aircraft which formed part of the contract of 72 Typhoons, were delivered in 2015. This was during the early part of the ongoing conflict, which is causing so much suffering to the people of Yemen. BAE describes the 2015 sales as part of an “existing order”” The company said: “Deliveries of aircraft to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2015 were part of a contract signed in 2007 and the delivery schedule is determined years in advance.”            


On 10th Sept 2006 BAE systems, won a major new contract worth £2.5bn to upgrade Saudi Arabia’s ageing fleet of Tornado fighter planes, (Rupert Steiner, see 35).  In 2013, a £1.5bn contract was agreed for Tornado aircraft upgrades and weapons. The deal became subject of a corruption investigation in 2007, which was cancelled following an intervention by Tony Blair in 2006.

Regardless of the evidence that some of these UK supplied arms have been used in serious violations of International Laws, and that the conflict in Yemen is ongoing and causing much suffering, BAE and the UK government are nevertheless pushing hard for a further contract. Analyst Charlotte Keyworth is quoted in the Telegraph as saying “Saudi Arabia is fighting a war in Yemen and the utilisation rate of its Typhoon and Tornado fighters points to an order” [37] As reported by the BBC (6/10/16, see 19), BAE has disclosed it is in talks over a multi-billion-pound arms contract with Saudi Arabia.         

James Cusick of The Independent in Feb 2016 reports that, “Amnesty International alleges that although BAE’s military-related sales contracted in recent years, the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, alongside plans for further Saudi involvement in bombing in Syria, helped improve operating profits last year from £1.3 billion to £1.5 billion.” He reports that BAE’s own figures for 2015, show that the Saudi military market helped boost the company’s overall performance with an increase in sales by £1.3 billion to £17.9 billion, [39].        

BAE has several Scottish sites, the main ones being “Naval Ships” in the Maritime department with the shipyards in Govan, Scotstoun and also Rosyth. There is also BAE Systems Land (UK) in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, and Defence Information Training & Services (DITS) &, Maritime Services in Dunfermline.


LEONARDO Airborne and Space Systems Division

From 1 January 2016, the activities of Selex ES merged into Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Electronics, Defence and Security Systems Sector. This sector was divided into 3 divisions, with Airborne and Space Systems being one of the divisions.     

The site at Crewe Toll, in Edinburgh is considered a centre of excellence for radar and microelectronics as well for its high-energy lasers. In 2015 over 1,900 people were employed at its site in Crewe Toll [45].
Leonardo are one of the main partners involved in delivering the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet to the RAF and to other nations who operate the aircraft. Leonardo leads the industry consortia that provide the Eurofighter Typhoon’s radar, Infrared Search and Track and defensive aid. They provide more than 60% of the Typhoon’s avionics, [44].  

Saudi Typhoons at Coningsby, Alan Wilson. (CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0)

Saudi Typhoons at Coningsby, Alan Wilson. (CC BY-SA 2.0) Creative Commons via Flickr, [84]

The Edinburgh site at Crewe Toll boasts a world-class laser research programme, which relies heavily on the company’s links with universities in Edinburgh. Many of the company’s laser engineers graduated at Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh universities, and in 2013 the firm joined forces with Heriot-Watt University to fund and create the “Selex ES Professorial Chair in Laser Devices and Engineering” at the university’s School of Engineering.           
The Airborne and Space Systems Division, is the lead contractor in the EuroRadar consortium who are developing CAPTOR-E radar, which will be the future primary sensor on the Eurofighter Typhoon. The radar will be manufactured at the Crewe Toll site. In radar technology, the site is considered to lead the way in Europe. The site designs and manufactures radars for fire control and surveillance that have been bought by government and military customers around the world [45 and 43].


Please sign CAAT’s petition to STOP ARMS SALES TO SAUDI ARABIA – [73]


Others Companies in the UK who have applied for exports to Saudi Arabia are:

(Some of this info is thanks to CAAT. Their excellent website and campaigning tools can be found here      


Brimstone on Typhoon, photo by Think Defence, (CC Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0)

Brimstone on Typhoon, photo by Think Defence, (CC BY-NC 2.0) Creative Commons via Flickr, [80]


produces Storm Shadow and Dual Mode Brimstone missiles and has sold these to Saudi Arabia. Both of these missiles have been confirmed by the Government as being used in Yemen [2] MBDA has also sold 1, 930 Mistral surface-to-air missiles and 100 Milan anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia [20]. It has sites in London, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Bedfordshire and Bristol.      


Brimstone, photo by Think Defence (CC Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0)

Brimstone, photo by Think Defence (CC BY-NC 2.0)  Creative Commons via Flickr, [80]

Advocacy organisations report the use of UK-manufactured munitions by UAE forces during an airstrike in Matnah, which hit a factory complex ‘Ceramica Radfan’, south-west of Sana’a City, Yemen, on 23 September 2015. The missile was identified by Armament Research Services as a ‘Hakim A series’ precision guided munition (PGM), which is manufactured by GEC-Marconi Dynamics and employed by United Arab Emirates Air Force, (UAEAF) on their multirole fighter aircraft. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) export database, the export of 1750 Hakim series munitions to the UAE was approved by the British government, with deliveries taking place between 1989 and 1998. After various mergers and acquisitions, it is now MBDA who continue to market the PGM 500 and PGM 2000 series precision guided munitions which have very similar specifications and have developed from the Hakim A munitions [56].


in the UK Selex facilities include a maintenance training centre in Luton, Bedfordshire for the Eurofighter Typhoon. This according to CAAT has been used by Saudi Arabia in its bombing of Yemen. They say that six Saudi engineers began training there in January 2016, [46].


Lockheed Martin describe themselves as “Saudia Arabia’s partner in progress.” From their own website, they state that;
“Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, continues working in partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to help it achieve its global security needs and the goals of Vision 2020.”    

“From integrated air and missile defense to maritime modernization to tactical missiles to satellite communications, Lockheed Martin offers the Kingdom the capabilities to preserve peace and stability,”[47]. It does this through providing such things as Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods.


In Jan 2013 it was reported that General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) had received a contract modification for production and delivery of additional M1A2S Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) to the Royal Saudi Land Forces. Also a large number of armoured vehicles


has supplied Saudi Arabia with a large number of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, and in 2014 also contracted to supply Saudi Arabia with 24 AH-6i “Little Bird” light attack helicopters.


from a site in Southend on Sea, Hidden Technology supplies Saudi Arabia with tracking technology

ROLLS ROYCE – at a site in Bristol, Rolls Royce manufactures engines for the Eurofighter Typhoon jets for the Royal Saudi Air Force. In Scotland the company has a skilled workforce working for both the civila and defence markets. They have a workforce of 750 in East Kilbride who undertake maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) on military and medium sized commercial aeroengines such as the V2500.

Rolls Royce also employs around a further 900 people undertaking the Research and Development (R&D), design and manufacture of compressor blades at its purpose-built facility at Inchinnan, near Glasgow Airport. This facility has been responsible for numerous improvements in technology and manufacturing focused on increasing fuel efficiency and reducing aircraft emissions. Rolls Royce’s marine division in Fife designs and manufactures a range of ship motion control equipment, including the rudders and steering gear and stabiliser systems for a range of international customers in both the civil and defence markets, [64].